7 years ago

Volume 9 Issue 5 - February 2004

  • Text
  • February
  • Toronto
  • Jazz
  • Theatre
  • Arts
  • Musical
  • Symphony
  • Choral
  • Composer
  • Quartet


COVER STORY: SNAPSHOTS compiled and edited by David Perlman· - -- --- ' In Snapshots we ask people active in musical life to respond by ~-mail to three things: to say who they are; to say something about what they're doing right now; and to say something about the longer term. Follow-up questions from us were based on these first responses. SNAPSHOT #1 :KRAFT & SILVER lWw we are WholeNote read.ers will probably know us better through our performing careers as classical guitarist (Norbert) and pianist/harpsichordist (Bonnie). For 25 years, we toured internationally arid recorded as the duo "Kraft & Silver" . However, for the last 12 years or so, we have been the principal recording producers for Naxos Records for North America, and have produced nearly 200 CDs during that time. We direct the recording sessions, do the en- . gineering and editing, and as A&R consultants for Naxos records, we create project proposals, and find artists well suited to particular repertoire. We come to our production work principally as musicians, and nearly always get involved with the artistic aspects of the performance. We try to understand and absorb the artists' vision, and to · help them realize that in the recording. This might be a discussion of such stylistic details as the tempo of a Minuet, a crescendo that could be more dramatic, or the placement of an ornament. It can range to technical aspects like pedaling on the piano, a singer's breathing or diction, or a better fingering solution or bowing. A great amount of trust between performer and producer has to be established early on, since we are .their only reference for what is ON OUR COVER members of the Toronto All-Star Big Band Rear, I. tor. Mike Tutton, Andrew Kay, Christian Overton, Nick Shao, Heather Ross, (Deanna Lichti, Ryan Kasperpwitsch, obscured), Matt Hughes Centre, I. to r. Abel Borg, Mike Manny - Conductor, Catalina Machulec, Diana Piruzevska Seated at piano: Ernesto Cervini Front, crouched, I. to r.: Brad · Richardson, Bryan Canonigo coming to the microphones; especially with larger forces, there just isn't time for the conductor to be running back to the control room listening to every take, so he/she has to trust our judgment in terms of balance, ensemble, dynamics, and other details of both technical and musical consideration. Norbert always says, "you should be too busy playing to listen ... ". Since we usually don't have the . luxury of a lot of session time, one of a producer's skills is a good "bedside maruier" -- to be able to quickly assess the performance, clearly communicate what details need to be addressed, and remain patient throughout! The psychological aspect of our work cannot be underestimated; having been on "the other side of the glass" as performers enough times, we understand how the tone and personality ofthe disembodied voice coming from the intercom behind the glass can influence the entire mood of the session. WWW, THEWHOLENOTE. COM One of the things we are doing right now is warming up from a recent recording session! Our first responsibility is to capture each performance with the best possible sound. This is no easytask. The first rule (as in real estate) is "location". So we nearly always record in 'acoustic' spaces, such as concert halls or churches, and the venue has to be carefully selected and matched to a given instrument or ensemble. Great acoustics that match project to venue are hard to come by. We have just finished Rameau's Castor et Pollux, an Opera in Concert/ Aradia co-production with baritone Joshua Hopkins, soprano Monica Whicher, and tenor Colin Ainsworth. Due for release in February or early March, it will be our first full "surround sound" recording. We recorded at Toronto's Grace Church-on-the"Hill, the first ten days of January. It's a venue with a· very warm sound and not too much traffic noise. But it has its "downside" - namely a very noisy boiler system. · The.all-powerful producer's life those ten days for Norbert consisted in part of running back and forth to the boiler room to tum the power· plant off and on. And for me providing a steady supply of hot water bottles, and pacifying oboists certain their instruments were going to crack from the cold. h's NOT JUST A QUESTION of location, though. From there, the choice of microphones and their relative placements are crucial to the final sound. We strive for a balance of transparency, dynamics, clarity, and richness. Each microphone has its own character or 'voice' , which when appropriately matched to a particular instrument within the acoustic setting can make it sound its best. Of course there are various systems and (ormulas of microphone placement wnich all engineers f6llow ,. but the 'fine tuning' requires a great deal of subjective listening and patience during the setup. No two artists produce the same sound. For example, two different string quartets, even in the same acoustic space, may require an entirely different microphone setup, and this can only be determined through patient experimentation and careful liste.ning. As for the longer term, we're looking forward to more of the same! One of the most wonderful things about our work is the diversity of repertoire that we get to experience very intensely during the recording and editing process. In the past few months, we have worked on everything from Baroque opera, Beethoven on the fortepiano, Handel Concerti Grossi, piano music by Hummel, Liszt, Villa-Lobos, and Copland, .· duParc songs, early Classical symphonies, sacred choral music, to Berio Sequenzas, chamber music by Takemitsu and George Crumb, and even piano music by the jazz pianist Art Tatum. There is always repertoire to be discovered or 're-visited, and we feel most privileged to be able to play a major part in recording these performances of great music. We are very pleased to have been able to bring so many Canadian artists to the Naxos label. We have such a wealth of worldclass musicians who deserve international recognition, and Naxos' worldwide distribution, which is second to none, can give them that exposure. To date, over 75 of our CD's feature Canadian artists and the list is growing. Next month there is the Aradia Rameau, and shortly after,, we should be seeing an exquisite performance of sacred choral music by Arvo Part, inducting the "Berliner Messe" by the Elora Festival Singers & Orchestra conducted by Noel Edison, who · will also soon be recording Handel's "Messiah". The ongoing series with the Aradia Ensemble continues with Lully, Purcell, ' Handel arias, and more. We are presently finishing the Luciano Berio Sequenzas, including several Canadian musicians, which will be the first truly complete recording of these works. Also interesting for us are the recordings in Naxos' Laureate Se- . ries, where we work with recent international competition winners; mostly it is their first professional recording experience, which we try to make as comfortable and positive as we can; upcoming recordings in this series include winners of the Cleveland Piano Competi­ .tion, the Concert Artist Guild Competition, and Early Music FEBRUARY 1 - MARCH 7 2004

America Competition. All in all, our rich musical lives continue, not on the stage, but behind the doors of the 'control room', under headphones, and in front of the editing computer where we assemble all of those inspired 'takes' into performances that will be enjoyed by music lovers all over the world. Follow-Up I'm wondering about two things: where live performance and your own recordings fit into the ongoing picture; and whether you find that the two of you have strongly different or similar tastes in repertoire. We spent from 1978 to the early · nineties touring together, sometimes as Kraft & Silver, sometimes as Kraft and Company. What the repertoire was then is truly irrelevant now. As to how our tastes in music differ or differed, if we started different it was not so much difference of taste as of experience - like so many other things after years those things ·have melted together. Norbert always had an aptitude for the engineering side of things. At one point he was very tom as to whether to go into performance or some kind of engineering that would be in some way related to music. Throughout his touring years he woulci always carry his own equipment and be very specific about such things as placement of microphones. Having his own equipment, reading Stereophile Magazine, doing razor blade tape edits of recording ... All this now is an evolution of all that. My years of teaching also, dovetail in terms of having and being able to ask for certain kinds of necessary concentration. Even my musical background in violin - not performance level, but solid, also plays a part in terms of being able to absorb orchestral repertoire from the inside as it were. It feels at this point that everything we have done has contributed to our being where we are now. It feels very natural. Ndrbert is still recording (with Naxos). Some is "wish list" recording. And he has a disc to .record in the next few months as the Naxos complete guitar works of Fernando Sor comes to completion. SNAPSHOT #2: LAWRENCE CHERNEY Who? I've been lucky enough to have a dual career as oboist and artistic director, but of course, they're related. Though I studied piano and oboe in my formative years, I studied philosophy at university and was 22 before deciding to make a career as a performer. I auditioned and got my first position with the National Arts Centre Orchestra under Mario Bernardi at its very inception in 1969. Although it was a great artistic experience, I think I was much too young to appreciate what a wonderful job it really was! fast at the ·. point when NACO offered me tenure, I left to pursue a very different career path. I grew up in a household where the idea of playing music by living composers was a no-brainer. My brother Brian, a very gifted composer, was already writing music for me when I was 16, so I thought this is what performers naturaily do. After NACO, new music was to play the central role in my artistic life, first as a founding member of the York Winds, then later as a soloist and recitalist. Composers from all over the world have now written some 150 works for me and I've concertized and recorded extensively in North America, Europe and Israel. In 1981, I founded both the summer festival Music at Sharon, which lasted for thirteen seasons, and Soundstreams Canada, now in its 21st year. Both organizations were born of my desire to take contemporary music out of an almost self-perpetuating new music ghetto. So much good new music CONTINUES ' GREAT CHAMBER MUSIC DOWNTOWN BERLIN PHILHARMONIC QUARTET Principal players of the famous orchestra - 20 years as a string quartet. Schulhoff, Brahms, Beethoven Thurs., Feb. 5 at 8 p .m. LARA ST. JOHN Classically trained , contemporary minded. Lara SL John plays Bach, Bartok and Ysaye. Just on the 12th - a unique opportunity! Thurs., Feb. 12 qt 8 p.m. The Music TORONTO CHAMBER SOCIETY • . Friends who are fine musicians play music for piano and strings from Clara & Robert Schumann and their friend Brahms. Tues., Feb. 17 at 8 p.m. SIMON TRPCESKI Toronto c~e but of 23-year -old pianist, winner of both Debut Disk and Editor's Choice from Gramophone Magazine. Tues., March 2 at 8 p.m. Thursday Februa1y 5 at the Berlin Philharmonic Quartet - The announcement of our 2004-2005 season! GA · . .. ·-·~ ~ ~ ... :: ~ ... ~~ ;:~. ~f(-i".; AT ~ .J:1>w .ll:tl k tt Tlw:111v TORON , 1 . 0 - ~ S I . l.:1\ t\'lll'l' l .v nt ri..· for illl' :\rL.., \WW.stk.nim 416-366-7723 • 1-800-708-6754 order online at F EBRUARY 1 - M ARCH 7 2004 WWW.THEWHOLENOTE.COM 7

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